This is the season in Maryland that anything goes with the weather. It can be frigid cold and icy, snowy and slushy, rainy and slippery or sunny and gloriously pleasant. We’ve had it all in one week. How do you accommodate the weather and keep your storefront looking and feeling welcoming? What are your responsibilities to your customers and your fellow business people? Here are a few tips to be prepared:

– Painfully Common

Know who is responsible for the sidewalk, parking lot and common areas around your building. If it is an outside company, be sure to have phone numbers and contact information in case of unexpected storms, holes or damage. First priority is customer and employee safety.

– Not an ice cream cone

Those hideous orange cones that mark hazards are supposed to be unsightly. They’re attention-getting and are a universal sign to be cautious. If you have a deep hole, slippery surface or area to be avoided, mark it with a cone.

– Sign of the Times

If you’re having a special sale or store hours, make it known with signage. Use folding signs that can be maneuvered so that they don’t impede sidewalk traffic and can be easily changed when your promotion changes.

– Just Window Shopping

If you have a front window, design it to reflect the warmth you want your customers to feel. Use mannequins and shelving to add interest, and showcase the items you think will bring people into the store.

– Whether the Weather

Whether the weather forecast is calling for rain or snow, don’t put yourself in a compromising position trying to create sidewalk merchandising. If you routinely use clothing racks on casters, full- or half-vision showcases on casters or stationary Gridwall fixtures, be careful in inclement weather. These fixtures can create sidewalk hazards that increase during bad weather. In addition, laminate fixtures are less weather-resistant than fixtures like Gridwall, which can accommodate a variety of seasons.

– Come into My Parlor

Once inside, give patrons that welcoming feeling with enough space to get their bearings, but with an alluring display. Nicely folded, luxurious-looking scarves on glass shelves or sparkling accessories in glass cases are eye-catchers.

– Wipe Your Feet 

Provide thin floor mats, umbrella stands or bags and even a coat rack for guests to use when they come in out of the rain or snow. Welcome home.